I was lucky enough to spend winter solstice in Hungary at the end of 2016. The day itself turned out to be the best adventure ever! This included my first time ever in a frozen white forest. Now this was not your typical forest covered in snow, there wasn’t really that much snow around. But it must be a combination of moisture in the air and cold temperatures that had frozen everything white. It was gorgeous! And for this gal from the south pacific this was a sight I have never seen so it was a real treat.
The location was a place called Dobogòkö which is in the Pilis Hills about 30km out of Budapest. This is a spiritual place and is known to some as the ‘heart chakra of the earth’. Dobogòkö translates to ‘beating stone’. I was told even the Dalai Lama has visited here. So how did I end up there?
At the time I was living in Zagreb, Croatia and decided to take a short trip just before Christmas to Budapest. What a treat to experience this city around Christmas time! I am a Couch Surfing member and an event had popped up to go hiking with a local. This is my sort of adventure so I was certainly keen. My new friend, Szilard, took myself and another couch surfer (Katalina) and her 8 year old son on a very cool adventure! Szilard was born in Transylvania, Romania and Katalina in Moscow, Russia. I was a little confused as to Szilard’s nationality as he said he was Hungarian but apparently borders don’t really mean much to them, or that is what I understood.
Katalina was the most interesting person! She was well traveled including much of Asia and even Australia. Over the years she had acquired a variety of skills and experiences from tourist guide to yoga expert and she use to own a hostel in Budapest. She has 4 children and has just started hosting work away travelers. On that particular day she had just had a Mexican couple arrive and had left her older daughter to deal with them. So I spent the day with very interesting people.
Dobogòkö was just beautiful. For me it really was one of those ‘wow’ moments when I had to keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to travel and discover places like this. I would call it majestical. We came across these ‘beating stones’ on our walk which are part of the sacredness of the place. It turned out to be quite the adventure as we lost the path and had to use phone GPS to find our way off track to the road making it out just before dark.Katalina and her son had to get home so they caught a bus back to the city. Szilard had something else for us to check out which we were both curious about. But first we walked to a cute little cafe in the woods where we got a hot drink and something to eat. The drink was a hot ginger concoction and the food we got was fresh bread with a duck fat spread, a sprinkle of paprika and some sliced red onion. There was a lovely warm fire which we enjoyed before heading back out into the cold.
So what we were curious to check out was a Shamanic Winter Solstice ceremony that Szilard had heard about. He didn’t know too much about it or anyone else who was attending but it sounded interesting. Let me just mention that it was below freezing, if I remember right probably about -5 degrees Celsius. I can’t even remember how many layers I put on when we got there. The meeting place was an old monastery ruins and it was easy to spot a group of people by a small fire enjoying a hot drink out of a pot. I have no idea what it was and no one spoke English so I had to rely on Szilard to translate for me. After a little investigation we learnt they were soon to embark on a 2-3 hour walk through the forest in the dark before returning to light a large bonfire. We decided we were not up for the few hours walking in the below freezing cold so we ditched the group and headed back to Budapest.
I definitely count this as one of the most awesome random days I have had travelling so far. Random adventures are all a part of great travel experiences and I look forward to sharing a few more with you.